Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Wendy Graham of online colleges.
If you work from home or attend online college, you know the importance of keeping productive; while working from the comfort of your house may seem like the best of all possible work environments, it can have its drawbacks. For one, you must have strong reserves of self-discipline and treat your work life as it were... a job. This can be difficult if one uses the same home computer for work and leisure. If this applies to you, consider the following programs.
Organize and color-code your notes and tasks with Notekeeper
I have tried many free and shareware PIMs (personal information managers) but I use Notekeeper the most. It is simple and is designed for maximum efficiency not only for documentation but for finding information quickly. You can organize your notes into groups, and the ability to add tags to each ensures the ability to cross-references anything from the fruits of online research to a simple to-do list. I find being able to add a color bar to each note particularly useful. You can track your information at a glance.
Watch your time with WatchMe
WatchMe is a simple, free program that sets a timer in the background and will alert you at a defined time. What makes this program so effective is its small footprint and how well it does what it is designed to do: no extra bells or whistles are included that you don’t want or need. You can define multiple tasks, each with its own timer, and set it up to add the total time. Timestamps can be exported into XML or CSV format or simply cut and paste into another program or document. I particularly like that it runs as a standalone .exe on the desktop with no installation required. If you are looking for a robust, but pared down time program, WatchMe is worth trying.
Manage your projects by task and time with Slimtimer
Slimtimer is an efficient and surprisingly feature-packed tool that will allow you to break your various projects into individual categories of tasks- both personal and business. You can set a timer for each task to see how long it takes you. You can also run reports to keep track of your projects and overall use of time when working. This tool is a godsend for collaborative projects or to keep track of billing.
Keep your eyes on the prize with k9webprotection
It happens to the best of us. We begin work with the best of intentions, but decide we will take ‘just a quick peek’ at our Twitter feed, etc. Before you know it, hours have passed, even if you feel like you have “worked.” If you can’t stay away from the social network sites during work hours, let k9webprotection.com be your ‘bad cop.’ Designed to filter web content, it can also be used to block access to certain sites during pre-defined times.
It took some time, but I am now more efficient working out of my home office than I ever was working in a cubicle!
This guest post was written by Wendy Graham, a stay at home mother and freelancer who often writes about education for Online College Guru, a directory of online colleges.
* Are you on Twitter? Then join over 3,300 people who get my stress relief tips, happiness ideas, and thought provoking quotes. @workhappynow
* Jason over at Escape Adulthood wrote a cool piece about living in the present moment. Click here to read the whole article.
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Image courtesy of Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos